Enjoy previous picks from

Summer Reading Guides

Over ELEVEN years of Summer Reading Guides
have produced some great reads we think you’ll like.

History Comes Alive

Novels that mess with history in the best possible way.

The Alice Network

The Alice Network

It's 1947, and society girl Charlie St. Clair is desperate to find her beloved cousin Rose, who mysteriously vanished during the war. Her inquiries lead her to Eve, a cranky old woman, who Charlie soon discovers has intimate ties to the first female spy network, and who may have personal and professional reasons for tracking down Rose—and getting revenge in the process. A little bit The Nightingale, a little bit Girl in Disguise.

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Wholly Unexpected Love Stories

Not at all what we were expecting

Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over

In the debut novel from Pop Culture Happy Hour host Holmes, a grieving widow and a disgraced Major League pitcher start over after each suffers their own kind of tragedy. Evvie’s husband dies in a car accident, but the truth surrounding his death is painful for reasons her small town community can never know. Dean’s career took a nosedive when he inexplicably developed “the yips”—he’s unable to pitch for reasons that might be all in his head, but nobody can figure it out. Because Evvie needs the income a boarder would bring, and Dean needs a refuge, a mutual friend connects the two. Out of mutual kindness and witty banter, a friendship develops, and then something more … but starting over as a grown-up is complicated. A warm, witty, and satisfying summer read.

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Families Are Complicated

Tension drives a good plot forward, and these families have plenty of it

Mr. Rochester

Mr. Rochester

In this work of historical fiction, Shoemaker imagines a backstory for Brontë's timeless hero, and it is not what I expected. She begins in his youth, with his education and increasingly complicated family history, then moves onto his troubled coming of age in Jamaica, his father's shady business dealings, and how he became entangled with Bertha Mason. This feels a little like Brontë, but even more like Dickens. Publication date: May 9.

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Gripping Suspense
The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers

This title comes from the Victorian Era’s literal language of flowers, which they relied on to convey feelings rarely spoken of: ardor and friendship, jealousy and envy, infidelity and grief. We meet Victoria Jones on her eighteenth birthday: the day she is emancipated from foster care. Though fluent in the language of flowers, Victoria uses her flowers to communicate distrust and discord. But as she strikes out on her own, she comes to learn that the language of flowers is more complicated than she was taught to believe. This beautiful debut is easy-reading, yet has depth and feeling. Ultimately, it’s a redemption story. And who doesn't love a good redemption story?

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Glittering Images

Glittering Images

Some might try to categorize this as “religious fiction,” but that wouldn’t be quite right—unless your religious fiction typically comes with lots of romance, psychoanalysis, and sex. Glittering Images is the first book in the Starbridge series, set in the Church of England in the 1930s, and later, the 1960s. That may not sound like your idea of a page turner, but the characters are rich and engaging and the stories suck you in. Each of the series’ six books is self-contained, but is told from the perspective of a different character: taken together, they make a magnificent composite. Recommended by the likes of Anna Quindlen and Jacqueline Winspear. Now that's high praise.

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Only Ever Her

Only Ever Her

In small-town Ludlow, South Carolina, Annie Taft’s wedding is set to be the social event of the year, and maybe even the decade. Everyone knows and loves Annie; they’ve looked out for her ever since her mother was killed when she was three years old, and they’re eager to turn out for her big day.  But then the bride vanishes, three days before the wedding. Those close to her know Annie needs her space, and they don’t worry much—in the early hours. But as the wedding draws ever nearer they begin to fear that she’s not simply dealing with cold feet. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that Annie went missing right after her mother’s alleged killer was released from prison due to problems with his trial—problems for which Annie herself shares responsibility. Rotating perspectives and a slew of uncovered secrets keep you on your toes, and you won’t find out what really happened until the final pages.

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Twisty Mysteries

Engrossing novels that keep you guessing till the end

I See You

I See You

$11.99$1.99Audiobook: 12.99 (Whispersync)

While reading the paper on the Tube, Londoner Zoe Walker spies her own photo in a personal ad for a dodgy website called FindtheOne.com. It's grainy, but it's definitely her. Startled, she begins to investigate—and discovers that women whose photos have previously appeared in these ads have been victims in a series of increasingly violent crimes. Someone is watching her, but who, and why? I adored Mackintosh's debut I Let You Go and have been impatiently waiting for another. Publication date: February 21.

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Hit the Road
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The Geography of You and Me

The Geography of You and Me

Owen and Lucy live in the same apartment building, but don’t meet until they’re stuck in an elevator together during a blackout. They forge an instant connection—but almost immediately after, Owen and his father take off for New Mexico, then California, then Seattle, and Lucy and her parents move to Scotland, then England. (Long-distance travel is quite the metaphor for adolescence, no?) As they move farther apart, their connection deepens, which makes them wonder: what if home isn’t a place, but a person?

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Badass Women

Stories with gutsy leading ladies

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Americanah

Americanah

This is Nigerian novelist Adichie’s third novel, but the first I've read. The story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. The novel grapples with difficult issues without becoming overwrought. I would not have read this based on the flap copy, but I was hooked from page one. Haunting, moving, incredibly well done. Terrific on audio.

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Beachy Novels

Easy-reading stories perfect for the backyard, beach, or pool

The Blue Bistro

The Blue Bistro

$7.99$4.99

Within hours of arriving on Nantucket, Adrienne lands a job at The Blue Bistro, its acclaimed oceanside restaurant. Over the course of the summer, she falls in love, endures family drama, and confronts a medical mystery, but the real star of this book is the restaurant itself. Hilderbrand’s tales from the belly of a fabulous summer hotspot are riveting and realistic: you’ll find yourself rooting for Adrienne as she figures out how to survive in the cutthroat setting. Warning: all that great food on the page will make you hungry. Hilderbrand is queen of the summer novel; this is one of her best.

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"The SRG is my official kick off to summer-can’t wait!"

Thoughtful and Funny Memoirs
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My Life in France

My Life in France

Child was 36 when her husband's job necessitated a move to Paris a few years after WWII. This is the story of how she fell in love with the city and its cuisine—and it all began with the restlessness she experienced upon arrival. Child found herself at loose ends in the city, with no job or other obligations, and so began she began shopping the French markets, falling in love with the French approach to food, and finally enrolling in cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. This joyful memoir is full of life: Julia’s tales will entertain, inspire, and make you laugh out loud.

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Flights of Fancy

Wildly imaginative novels

Einstein’s Dreams

Einstein’s Dreams

Science writer Lightman’s premise is as follows: in 1905, young Albert Einstein dreamed repeatedly about time as he worked on his paper “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” and made creeping progress on his special theory of relativity. Each dream reveals "one of the many possible natures of time.'' Lightman presents these (entirely fictional) dreams as a collection of poetic vignettes. Small enough to read in an afternoon, but easy to wander in and out of. Unusual and utterly delightful.

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Get Smart

Dad books for everyone

A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century

A Clearing in the Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century

$13.99$3.99

If you’ve reached your thirties and haven’t found your calling, take heart: Olmsted found his vocation relatively late in life, becoming the world’s premier landscape architect at a time when there was no such thing. He fell into the work by happenstance, and turned out to be a genius at it. His legacy reflects his conviction that ordinary people need beautiful landscapes: he designed Central Park (remarkably, his first commission), Boston’s Back Bay Fens, the campus of Stanford University, Biltmore Estate, and many other public and private parks. Surprisingly absorbing: an outstanding account of an incredible life.

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Intense emotionally resonant

Stories that keep your pages turning and your heart pounding

The Stars Are Fire

The Stars Are Fire

After a scorching summer and months of no rain, the largest fires in Maine's history swept over its coast, from Bar Harbor to Kittery. In Shreve's claustrophobic domestic suspense we experience this real event through the eyes of Grace Holland, whose marriage is its own sort of natural disaster. Her husband came back from the war a little broken. So did her friend's husbands, yet they don't seem as cruel. When wildfires break out, her husband leaves to help dig a fire break, and Grace and her children flee to the ocean to escape the flames. When her husband doesn't return, Grace thinks she's lost him forever—and she's far from devastated. But then he returns, and the real trouble begins. Dark and a little melodramatic, but oh-so-discussable.

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Southern Fiction

Tales with southern charms and wiles

Evensong

Evensong

What happens when we get the thing we desire most in life—only to find that it might destroy us? That's the question Margaret faces at the opening of Evensong. This tale, set in the mountains of North Carolina, faithfully examines marriage and vocation and calling through the eyes of Margaret, a thirtysomething Episcopal priest, who is forced to finally confront matters when three unexpected and—let's face it—unwelcome guests arrive in her sleepy North Carolina mountain town of High Balsam. This book, first published in 1999, has the fingerprints of the millennium all over it. If you love it, go back and read its predecessor, Father Melancholy's Daughter.

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Bel Canto

Bel Canto

This oddly structured pageturner from Nashvillian Ann Patchett fuses opera and a hostage crisis–and surprisingly, it works. Japanese businessman and opera buff Katsumi Hosokawa is celebrating his birthday in an unnamed South American country, in the company of diplomats, government officials, and businessman. Mr. Hosokawa knows he's being shaken down for a large donation, but he can't resist attending, because the South Americans have secured a performance by legendary soprano Roxanne Coss. The country's president is unable to attend (he's much too interested in what happens on his favorite soap opera on Tuesday nights), and his fixation spares him from being taken hostage when the militant group La Familia storms the gathering. Intriguing, highly readable, and loosely based on a true story.

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The Funeral Dress

The Funeral Dress

$9.99$1.99

Skip the publisher's description on this one: you'll enjoy it more if you come to it without expectations. But I will say this: Emmalee Bullard is a young, unwed mother who is all alone in the world, and has suffered one hard knock after another. Just when she thinks she's found a way out, something tragic happens, dashing Emmalee's hopes—possibly forever. This story about the the resilience of women and female friendship is moving, heartwarming, and Southern to its core. For fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Sue Monk Kidd.

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Foodie Memoirs

Stories of life in and around food services will leave your mouth watering

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage

Wizenberg is one of the original food bloggers, and her brand of intimate, chatty conversation—mixed with reliable recipes—works well in long form. If you’re new to her work, you may enjoy starting with her first book A Homemade Life, in which, among other events, she meets and marries her husband Brandon after he contacts her through her blog. In this sequel-of-sorts, Brandon and a somewhat reluctant Molly have their first "baby": a pizza place named Delancey. In her familiar style, Wizenberg reflects on the messy and marvelous muddle that is her young marriage, and her younger restaurant, and shares recipes for the simple, delicious food that chefs like to eat at home.

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Meet Anne

Anne Bogel is an author, podcast and book club host, and the creator of the blog Modern Mrs Darcy. Anne approaches old, familiar ideas from new and fresh angles and she is well known by readers, authors, and publishers as a tastemaker. Her podcast What Should I Read Next? Is a popular show devoted to literary matchmaking, bibliotherapy, and all things books and reading. She also helps people learn to read better, together in Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. Anne lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband, four children, and a yellow lab named Daisy.